Interviews


Dribble it like Felicia…!! …by Shuvojit Moulik

01/12/2013

Winning is the ultimate thing…..but who defines winning ….only a winner can define winning but who defines a winner ….only LIFE defines a winner. Well LIFE defined Felicia a winner!! Felicia Schroeder, is a footballer, represented the United States Football team and had been a double gold medallist. OH YA, SHE IS DEAF!

Felicia Schroeder is a deaf sorcerer who scored a double to help her team win Deaflympics 2009 at Taiwan. She was also part of the winning team at Deaflympics 2005. In her illustrious career in the football ground she could never hear the roar of spectators, instructions of coaches or whistle of referees, only what she could hear was the call of the Goalposts!Civilian Welfare Foundation brings you a candid interview with the US disabled athlete of the year 2012.

The interview airs her passion for football, her feel for the disabled populace and tries to figure out the right way of making a difference in the differently abled world.

Being a deaf and a girl how tough was your journey to the football ground?

Being deaf was a bit of a struggle at first but once I realized how good I was at sports I used that as a motivation and a way to get other kids’ respect. I never let being a girl get in the way. I always played soccer, basketball, and other sports with other boys.

Who is your idol in Football? Did you ever get a chance to meet your idol?

When I was growing up I liked Mia Hamm and Cobi Jones. But currently my idol is Lionel Messi, he is the best in the world, there’s no question about it. I did not get to meet any of them though.

How was your first experience of getting a medal?

It was such an unbelievable experience. Not very many people can say “oh I own two gold medals.” It was an experience I will cherish forever. It proves that not only hearing athletes can receive a medal. Hard work, dedication and determination has to be behind every motive and dream.

You have been a terrific player and now you are also a coach. What are your suggestions for a budding Para-athlete?

My suggestion is find your passion, and work your butt off. Don’t ever let someone tell you otherwise. Your dreams are YOUR dreams.

For a girl athlete like you how did you cater your nutritional needs? What are the food and supplements you would suggest for budding female para athletes?

I ate really healthy. Made sure I never played on an empty stomach. I eat a lot of protein (chicken), pasta, fruit and veggies.

How was your training schedule during the Deaflympics? What were the differences from your regular training?

Luckily the first Deaflympics I was around Purdue (my college that I graduated from) so I played a lot of pickup with my teammates. Preparing for the Deaf World Cup last summer I was playing professionally in Sweden so I stuck with the professional training and it brought over to Turkey for the World Championships.

In sports relaxation of mind is important. What is your way of relaxation after a hectic schedule of training?

I usually go home make some food and go straight to bed or take a nap. I also like to watch Netflix movies or dvds.

The disability index of world is growing in a faster rate with India catering the highest number of disabled people. Can sports play a role in the social empowerment of the disabled sector? How important is Sports to rehabilitate a Disabled or differently able person?

I believe sports can play a role in the social empowerment of the disabled sector because it is a way for people to socialize and get to know each other. It is a great way of having fun playing something you love. Sports is a way for many people to come together and forget about what makes them different from one another. It is a way of forming a unique relationships with different kinds of people.

What are the key steps to promote Deaflympics?

Strong advertising and marketing. Inform people about it, make people aware. Many people have never heard of it.

Disabled Athlete and Sympathy are synonymous to public. What do you think can be the ideal procedure to make Sports for Disabled more professional and less sympathetic?

Have these athletes go around and be a motivational speaker publicly. So people are able to meet them hands on and realize that they don’t feel bad for themselves so there is no reason people should sympathize anyone.

Para athletes with even international medals, lacks proper recognition in media, in many countries in the world. How important is media management in Para Sports?

Media is what gets people’s attention? There is no if’s and but’s about that. Maybe a good way to get started is to choose one athlete that has the most medals and see if they would be interested in helping out and going from there. It takes more than a group of people to get noticed. In terms for one to help out, maybe they can look into becoming a motivational speaker. Once one has success with that, I am sure many others will want to jump and make it well known for people and help children.

How can print and electronic media sensitize the common people about Para sports?

People like reading inspirational stories. It gives people hope and respect for others. Also for themselves in terms of “if they can do this, so can I”

Do you think common people can relate to para-sports? What’s your experience in this regard?

In a way yes, because you will always know someone who has a disability. A family member, friend, co-worker, classmate, teammate. There are many different kinds of disabilities in the world and they are not always visual.

Another important factor in Disabled sports is Sponsorship.Athletes fail to get sponsors even if they qualify for Paralympic Games. How did you deal with your Sponsors?

I don’t have sponsors I hold fund raising events that helps raise money for events. I also set up a website where people donate money.

Disability rights are an important issue all over the world. What are the rights according to you still needed for Disabled people?

This is a bit difficult for me to answer because in the United States we have many laws that require companies, schools to give what children people need. So I have always gotten interpreters when I asked for them, gotten subtitles in my videos in the class room. Two things that really bother me and makes me feel that I have been treated unfairly is; not having subtitles/closed captioning at movie theatres and finding a job. I have applied to so many jobs but the word “deaf” throws people off and makes companies overlook me. They do not give me a chance to show what I can do or what I am capable of. This really frustrates me because I work hard and take pride in whatever I do. I give it my 100% in everything.

Doping charges are often seen against many athletes. What do you think is the best way for the Para-athletes to stay away from Doping?

The best way to stay away from doping is to stay away from people that do it. Who you hang out can be a representation of who you are. Many people are not good with peer pressure. Also, I would suggest a drug testing once a month or a few times a month. I feel that athletes in today society get away with too much. So one strike you’re out.

What are the things you think of when you hear of India?

I think of: many many people, overpopulated, and poverty. But I truly think India has a lot of potential.

Football is creating a world without boundaries. Given a chance would you like to coach Indian Para- athletes breaking the barriers of language and culture?

Absolutely! Football does not need a language! Football is a universal language, it is easy to talk about football without having a language if you truly know and understand the game. I played in Sweden with a Swedish speaking coach and team and we had no problems communicating in terms of football. I love to travel! So that would be a once in a lifetime experience!

We are coming with a unique professional networking site www.theparalympian.com dedicated for the Paralympians/Para-Athletes. It’s a place where any paralympian can build/increase their network with coaches, escorts, classifiers, nutritionists, psychologists, doctors, physiotherapists and other advisors and get instant solution to many problems they face. This site will also cater interested sponsors, media, policy makers so that the Para-athletes can connect with them. This is also coming with an on-field free consultancy service where “not so tech” savvy athletes will be groomed and will be helped with their networking. What do you think about the success of such a website?

I think this is a wonderful idea and such an inspirational way to get attention. People feel bad for people who have disabilities because they only see what they see. They don’t know where they come from, what they have been through, and how they feel about themselves. Once I meet someone I say “oh I’m Felicia, I’m deaf” a reaction I get a lot is “oh my I’m so sorry” That’s not a reaction I want, I want them to know how confident I am in my deafness and it is a huge part of me but it doesn’t define who I am.

Your words for inspiration for Indian Football fans, especially for Para-footballers.

Follow your heart and dreams. Your disability is what makes you stronger, don’t let your disability define who you are. Let it be a PART of you, but your actions and your determination will be what defines you.

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